Ex-Avalanche player May enjoys new surroundings

OTTAWA - His dark beard is rather long and has gotten a little scruffy, with traces of gray peeking out at the tip.

But a beard with plenty of growth at this point in the year can only mean one thing for a hockey player: It must be Stanley Cup Finals time.

"I've never had the chance before to give it this much steam," Brad May said Friday, laughing as he stroked his whiskers after practice at Scotiabank Place. "This is the week that you still want to be playing hockey, that's for sure."

The forward, 35, didn't get to play much for the Avalanche this season after undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair a shoulder injury suffered in a fight with Darryl Bootland of the Detroit Red Wings during an exhibition game.

May was on the injured list until Feb. 8, and he was traded Feb. 27 to the Anaheim Ducks for minor league goalie Michael Wall.

May, now, in his 15th NHL season, is halfway to getting his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for the first time, as the Ducks have built a 2-0 lead against the Ottawa Senators in the best-of-seven championship series that resumes tonight (6 MDT, KUSA-Channel 9).

"It's incredible," May said. "It's been a great experience, but the dream is being the last team standing, so we haven't accomplished anything yet. We're certainly not complacent, I can promise that."

Other than to say he enjoyed his time in Colorado, May prefers to leave it in the past.

"I'm happy to be here, and that's no disrespect to where you've been," he said.

May and the Avalanche took considerable heat when he signed a two-year contract as a free agent after the 2004-05 lockout.

May spent the previous season with the Vancouver Canucks, and his comment suggesting retribution against Steve Moore for a hit against Canucks captain Markus Naslund preceded Todd Bertuzzi's attack March 8, 2004, against the former Avalanche forward, who still hasn't recovered from his injuries to resume an NHL career.

May was named as a defendant in Moore's original civil lawsuit, which was tossed on a jurisdictional ruling, but he isn't part of the $19.5 million action Moore and his parents filed against Bertuzzi in February 2006.

"I don't look back," May said. "I'm here today, and I'm excited. It was a good team there and a good group of guys. I liked my time in Colorado, I really did."

May played in 10 games this season before he was traded, but he twice previously had been moved, from Buffalo to Vancouver in 1998 and from Phoenix to Vancouver in 2003, so he knew the routine.

"I wouldn't say it surprised me," said May, who will be an unrestricted free agent next month. "Getting sent to Southern California and the Anaheim Ducks, one of the best teams in the league, was quite a day.

"My sister lives in California, and we're five minutes from her now, so it's been a fun time."

May's wife and their two children joined him a short time after the trade, and the family is renting a home in the Newport Beach area, a couple of miles from the Pacific Ocean.

"I didn't want to be away from them," May said. "I mean, we had no reason ever to leave Denver. We had a great house there in a good spot, but we wanted to be together."

The children stayed in school in Colorado until spring break in March, then enrolled in school in California.

"For them to be away from their dad and for me to be away from them, it just wasn't acceptable," May said. "My kids are resilient, and they've had a good time. The first day we got there, it was sunny and warm, and it's been that way ever since."

May's sunny disposition in locker rooms has made him well-liked by teammates every place he has been.

"He never complains about his ice time or anything like that," Ducks goalie Jean- Sebastien Giguere said. "He just is happy whenever he gets his chance to go out and show what he can do. He knows what it takes to win."

The Ducks acquired May for his toughness and physical style of play, but he went overboard in the first-round series against Minnesota when he punched out Wild defenseman Kim Johnsson and was handed a three-game suspension.

May since has provided the Ducks with some hard hits and energy while logging about seven minutes of ice time on the third or fourth line.

"He fits into our style," coach Randy Carlyle said. "He's a warrior-type player."